ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Neural Networks: What Are They, and Why Is the Tech Industry Obsessed With Them?
John Brownlee | Fast Company
“Combine them with conversational interfaces, and neural networks can make true artificial intelligence finally possible—a revolution that would have a knock-on effect in the way we pretty much do everything. Designers in the future won’t just use neural networks; neural networks may very well be designers themselves.”

COMPUTING: Why a Chip That’s Bad at Math Can Help Computers Tackle Harder Problems
Tom Simonite | MIT Technology Review
“In a simulated test using software that tracks objects such as cars in video, Singular’s approach was  capable of processing frames almost 100 times faster than a conventional processor restricted to doing correct math—while using less than 2 percent as much power.”

CULTURE & TECHNOLOGY: How Early Computer Games Influenced Internet Culture
Adrienne LaFrance | The Atlantic
“Games also shaped people’s understanding of what computers are for—and what humankind’s relationship with such machines could be like…Gaming is the first form of computational technology most of us ever handled…Games taught us principles of interaction and screen responsiveness, about coordination between hand and eye, how to type, how to sit, how to look at a screen.”

SPACE: Is Hawking’s Interstellar ‘Starshot’ Possible?
Ian O’Neill | Discovery News
“Challenges and apparent impossibilities abound but at least it’s a start. For the first time there seems to be a global interest in reaching for the stars and it’s starting to be matched by significant quantities of money that will be used to make huge advances in basic interstellar science.”

VIRTUAL REALITY: ‘Paranormal Activity VR’ Is So Scary Someone Threw Off Their Headset
David Jagneaux | Upload VR
“There I was, standing at the check-in kiosk for the Paranormal Activity VR booth at GDC, and the moment I’d been waiting for finally happened: a young woman got so scared playing the game that she threw off her entire HTC Vive headset, along with both controllers, across the booth and cowered down into a ball on the floor. She was terrified. Reactions from the crowd were mixed…How could something that isn’t real actually make you react like that? ‘Surely she was overreacting,’ I told myself.”

ROBOTICS: This Little Robot Acts as a Real-Life ‘Avatar’ for Humans
Emiko Jozuka | Motherboard
“OriHime, created by Japanese startup OryLab, is a portable robot about the same height as a laptop screen that acts as an avatar for a human operator…Their robot, they say, makes it feel like the person you’re speaking to remotely is actually by your side—embodied through the robot…’I’d really like this robot to be used by people [who can’t move] owing to incurable diseases, and for it to provide these people with a sense of purpose within society,’ said Banda.”

CYBERSECURITY: Why Computer Science Programs Don’t Require Cybersecurity Classes
Josephine Wolff | Slate
“What are the things that every person training to be a cybersecurity professional over the course of the next decade should know? There’s surprisingly little consensus around this question—or perhaps it isn’t surprising at all, given how new the phenomenon of cybersecurity training programs is and how rapidly the field is changing…What makes cybersecurity different is that there has been a very short grace period for figuring out how it should be taught and what the workforce of the future should know.”

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: Taking a Cue From Textile-Making to Engineer Human Tissue
Emily Matchar | Smithsonian
“Tissue engineering is not easy. It involves first creating a ‘scaffold’ to grow the tissue on…What if, researchers wondered, making scaffolding was as easy as, say, making socks? ‘We started thinking, ‘could we look at some other industry standard practices that make other materials, like textiles?'”

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Alison tells the stories of purpose-driven leaders and is fascinated by various intersections of technology and society. When not keeping a finger on the pulse of all things Singularity University, you'll likely find Alison in the woods sipping coffee and reading philosophy (new book recommendations are welcome).

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